Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2020

2020 Styrian Grand Prix Star Performers

2020 Styrian Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr and Lewis Hamilton were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Styrian Grand Prix. Here’s they.


Carlos Sainz Jnr

Sainz took advantage of a streaming wet qualifying session, put in the third-best time and claimed the highest starting position of his F1 career. From there he challenged Verstappen for second but sensibly kept out of trouble as Valtteri Bottas and Alexander Albon came past in significantly quicker cars.

The number 55 McLaren was running comfortably in fifth until a slow pit stop dropped him down to 13th. He recovered to eighth, then let by his quicker team mate when asked. He undoubtedly deserved better than ninth. To his two points he added a third by setting the fastest lap of the race after making an extra pit stop. Running in clear air, he was able to set a quicker time than Max Verstappen, who encountered traffic when he tried to do the same.

Lewis Hamilton

After a sub-par performance in F1’s first race at the Red Bull Ring, it looked like the Styrian Grand Prix would be a similar case for Hamilton. He was sixth in second practice and at risk of starting from the third row if the forecast rain led qualifying to be abandoned.

Fortunately for Hamilton, the rain eased long enough for qualifying to take place, and his astonishing touch for the very worst conditions did the rest. The track surface changed every lap as the rainfall varied. In Q3 the conditions were at the worst they had been all session, but turned this to his advantage, destroying the field by 1.2 seconds.

The race was less dramatic for the six-time world champion as he controlled proceedings from the start and quickly opened up a healthy lead over Verstappen. Unlike the first race, the team appeared to have no repeat of their reliability worries, and Hamilton won his first race of the season in dominant fashion.

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Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2020
A penalty for impeding Kvyat was the beginning of Leclerc’s woes
Could Leclerc have possibly had two more different races at the Red Bull Ring? He dazzled first time out, salvaging a second place which was far beyond what the Ferrari deserves. Last weekend was arguably his worst performance in an F1 car.

After dropping out of the wet qualifying session in Q2, seemingly running less wing than his team mate, Leclerc became the subject of two FIA investigations. He was rightly cleared over his reaction to the red flag, but equally the stewards had him bang to rights for failing to let Daniil Kvyat through, which meant a three-place grid penalty.

His race went even worse as he attempted a late lunge down the inside of his team mate into turn three. Leclerc clambered over the inside kerb, skidded into the other Ferrari and demolished Vettel’s rear wing. Both drivers were forced to retire from the race due to the damage; Leclerc at least was wise enough to accept full responsibility for the incident after the race.

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And the rest

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Wing damage slowed Verstappen
Bottas struggled with glazed brakes in qualifying and started fourth, but recovered in the race. He quickly disposed of Sainz and passed Verstappen in the closing laps to complete a one-two for Mercedes and retain his points lead.

After that, Verstappen pitted for soft tyres in an attempt to set the fastest lap of the race, but mired in traffic and nursing a damaged wing, Sainz beat him to it. He still crossed the line third behind the Mercedes. Alexander Albon dropped back early on with blistering but survived a late attack from Sergio Perez’s very quick Racing Point, which made contact with him.

That damage cost Perez fifth place on the last lap, following his otherwise impressive climb from 17th on the grid, the result of being unable to get his tyres to the correct temperature in qualifying.

Lando Norris’s weekend started poorly when he overtook under yellow flags during practice one and was given a three-place grid penalty. Starting ninth he was overtaken by Perez and Stroll early on but did the longest stint of the field on his soft tyres. Emerging from the pits in 10th, he used his fresh medium tyres to catch up to Stroll and Ricciardo who were battling for sixth. Norris took advantage of an opening on lap 70 to pick off Ricciardo and then passed Stroll and a wounded Perez on the final lap of the race for a superb fifth.

Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Rash move on Albon spoiled Perez’s race
Ricciardo was out-qualified by Ocon, but was waved past his team mate shortly before a cooling problem put Ocon out. Ricciardo defended from Stroll for the majority of his second stint before falling victim to a lunge which put both off-track, which the stewards allowed to go unpenalised. Somehow, neither Stroll nor Ricciardo managed to beat Perez to the line.

Kvyat was out-qualified by his team mate but finished ahead after Gasly picked up floor damage at the start and struggled for race pace as a result. He came in 15th after making two stops, a stint on hard tyres not helping matters, while Kvyat grabbed a point for 10th.

Raikkonen dropped to last place after the opening lap, but showed great race pace to recover to 11th, aided by Giovinazzi being told to let him past again. Grosjean started from the pit lane after failing to set a time in qualifying due to a water pump problem. He led Magnussen in 13th with six laps left as they hunted down Giovinazzi and the team told Grosjean to let Magnussen through, before both Haas drivers cleared the Alfa Romeo.

George Russell, Williams, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Williams reached Q2 thanks to Russell
George Russell made it out of Q1 for the first time in his career and nearly made it into the final 10. But he lacked the race pace to keep this position. He was defending against Magnussen on lap three when he ran wide at turn six. From there he fell to 18th but eventually recovered to finish ahead of his team mate in 16th.

Nicholas Latifi was set to make it out of Q1 as well but yellow flags in the third sector forced him to abort his final run. He finished the race behind Russell.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

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Author information

Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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36 comments on “2020 Styrian Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Not Star performance yet, but a ‘whisper out’ to Latifi.
    Big improvement on last week, and keeping Russell more than honest.

  2. i think Carlos Sainz’s race was decent at best. He was holding everyone behind him, and the fact that he dropped to 9th and stayed there after the pits tells us that he didn’t had any pace at all to be the so called best of the rest that his saturday qualy suggested.

    No one will remeber this as one of his finest performances.

    1. Nobody voted for Sainz, Josh Holland. we did not name carlos as one of the star performers.

  3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    15th July 2020, 14:27

    It does seem to take a lot for Leclerc to be considered a struggler and this is the first time this has every been the case. I am not convinced I would say this was his very worst performance

    It is questionable as to why both of his performances in germany were not considered very poor as well as Monaco and Japan last year.

    I do agree this time with what has been mentioned about him. Though there is a mistake which happens to come across quite funny.

    “Leclerc at least was wide enough to accept full responsibility for the incident after the race.”

    Perhaps if his car was narrower, this wouldn’t have happened!

    I also think it is correct not to have Perez as a star performer. That car was quite easily the 4th best this weekend IMO. Both drivers, especially Perez underperformed in Qualifying. Stroll showed the car had the pace, but made a mistake in Q2. They both looked completely capable of getting through to Q3.

    Perez’s overtakes do look really impressive, but the vast majority of them were on much less powerful cars. To be realistic, Albon’s pace was so poor, that finishing some way ahead should have been very realistic for Perez (and Stroll especially). Perez undid his impressive recovery when doing that move on Albon. He’s built up and impressive 15 second gap on Ricciardo who was still holding up Stroll, only to undo all that time and Stroll to only finish 0.066 behind him. In the end, for a weekend performance, due to this, I can say that Perez only did slightly better than Stroll.

    Albon is certainly one I would add to the strugglers list though. Even before Verstappen pitted, he was nearly 30 seconds ahead of Albon, despite having damage to his car. Bottas also had issues with his car most of the race and his distance to Hamilton was under half that, despite Hamilton having one of his outstanding weekends. To me albon has pace just as bad or possibly worse than Gasly did at Red Bull, but just has significantly better racecraft against the drivers (if he gets involved). But sadly, he just looks nowhere at the moment.

    1. @thegianthogweed I guess that, in the case of the 2019 German GP, it was a bit difficult to form a clear picture.

      With first Vettel, and then Leclerc, having mechanical problems during qualifying, it was hard to form a clear picture of where exactly Ferrari’s single lap pace lay and where either he or Vettel might have qualified if they’d not had any issues.

      In the race itself though, Leclerc had been running reasonably competitively and managed to work himself up into 2nd place just before he went off track, so there is an argument that he’d been staging a reasonable recovery drive. With multiple drivers proceeding to spin or crash in the same section of the track, I guess that perhaps the overall consensus was that it was more of a neutral position over the whole weekend.

      I do agree that Albon does seem to be getting off rather lightly here and that his pace really was quite poor though – I was expecting him to be classified as struggling as well as, quite frankly, he did.

      1. @Anon. If they named everyone who went off during the German GP as a struggler that would pretty much be the entire field, so I think they had to focus on only the worst cases in that chaotic race.

        I could see Albon being a struggler due to his poor pace alone, but he did at least equal his best result in F1, and it was probably the highest placing he was ever likely to achieve, so maybe this allowed him off the hook this time.

      2. Spinning is not the problem. Crashing as a result is!

  4. @thegianthogweed He’s most definitely fared better than Gasly did over the first twelve events of last season. Both better and more consistent results and pace. Additionally, he doesn’t struggle as much in traffic and getting past slower cars as his predecessor. I don’t think his pace is as bad as Gasly’s was, and definitely not worse. He can also adjust to different cars better than Gasly, which was evident last season despite changing teams during the season without having a chance for testing beforehand, something Gasly had had since he started the season in the team.

  5. Stars: HAM, and NOR.
    Strugglers: ALB, SAI, and GAS.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      15th July 2020, 15:00


      Well, i think that you have made some good points above but I’ve got to say that the only drivers of your stars and strugglers i can agree with are Hamilton and Albon.

      Norris made an unacceptable mistake in practice earning himself a penalty. Sainz had already qualified some way ahead, though admittedly he probably will have been helped by Bottas’s brake issues. But Norris was not good here and should have at least outqualified Ocon. Norris lost a place to Perez and Stroll and and didn’t gain any over the first 20 laps. Sainz had only lost out to Albon and Bottas which is slightly more understandable. Norris gained a place from Ocon retiring and even then by over 30 laps, he was still only where he started in 9th. Then Sainz pitted and lost well over 5 seconds. Norris pitted quite a bit later and the fresh tyres did benefit from this. Norris did shine at this stage of the race, but it was the only part of the weekend he did. It can make him a DOTD I’d say as the way he made the most of everything was really impressive, but i certainly can’t see how he was one of the best drivers of the weekend and totally disagree that Sainz was a struggler.

      Also, although I initially thought Gasly had no pace, He had contact with ricciardo which i wouldn’t really blame either for on the first lap. He then commented to the team that he was lacking grip at the rear. We can’t confirm but it would well have been a bit of a handful to drive. He was really good in qualifying so I wouldn’t call him a struggler based on his race pace.

      1. @thegianthogweed I base these solely on the race, not the weekend as a whole.

      2. @thegianthogweed the wet suited some drivers it is true, norris really did drop the ball in q, hardly a star but I agree with @jerejj sainz and gasly had no race pace, other drivers pitted at the same time and went quicker. Gasly pitted early for hards as he had been caught by his team mate, maybe he and others bet on a full wet setup, leclerc for instances said he had a full dry setup.

  6. Hamilton defiantly a great race, both McLaren drivers done OK. Ricciardo done the best he could with the tools given to him as did Ocon. Russell showed his potential in a very slow car. Ferrari well we know the car is rubbish at this point and the morale in that team must be close to rock bottom, so the drivers must be struggling to keep positive. Perez in the pink Merc was very fast. Verstappen put himself out of the race Albon was never in it.

  7. Leclerc needs to switch to an Alonso mindset, generating that calm air of ‘fabulous driver in a struggling car’. He’s not going to blast his way to victory in that Ferrari. But he needs to impress so his reputation with the team is intact when Sainz arrives. I liked his driving style until he was roughed up by Verstappen last year and decided he’d switch to being an aggressive driver. I don’t think that was necessary. And he has since got into a fair number of tangles, rather than displaying that cool panache in passing at the right moment (some of which we did see in the first race). All he needs to do is let Vettel make the midfield mistakes and he’ll reassure the team they backed the right driver.

    1. If you look at his career, lecs races are incident filled from his Karting days. All based on a very aggressive driving style.
      Nothing new there. I guess Ferrari thought his wild years had past… But no.

    2. @david-br Now I see where did sainz get that “fabulous driver in a struggling car” no from his father but Alonso.

  8. Sainz? Yes the pit-stopt didn’t help, but after that the two positions that he recovered on track were the two alfas that had their tyres destroyed

    he said he struggled with traffic and that didn’t help, but well so did Norris, Perez, Stroll and Perez, and he was the only one that didn’t manage to have the tyres to stay in the group. Perez for example was on the attack from the moment he left the pits

  9. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    15th July 2020, 15:43

    I really don’t think anyone was all that impressive out there on this race. Norris and Hamilton were probably the best of them, but everyone else just didn’t seem to get the most out of their package, made mistakes or failed to deliver on promise. Like after the 1st race being quite chaotic and a little undpredictable I figured the 2nd might end up being a little meh if everyone played a little conservatively, and it felt like they did.

    1. @rocketpanda Hamilton?! What mistake?!! I mean, you realize he was driving as slow as possible while keeping safely ahead in order to preserve the car around a circuit that had caused them problems the week before? Unless you think he could have pulled out an additional 1.2 second advantage in qualifying? Yeah, maybe.

      1. He didn’t say Hamilton made a mistake.

        1. @hugh11 True, apologies @rocketpanda, I read the line wrong, ‘but like everyone else’ :(

  10. Erm, how are ‘Racefans’ defined, cos the top two as voted for by ‘us’ were Hamilton and Norris… by a large margin.

  11. Albon was pathetic this week. Useless in qualifying and had the race pace of a snail. How can he be that much slower than Verstappen. RedBull must wonder who they can get to match Max. It isn’t Albon that’s for sure!

    Before people moan and say he would have won the first race. Well he didn’t. He was quick but that was only because he was on fresh tyres. He also lost it by putting his car in a dangerous situation. Yes, Hamilton got a penalty but Albon had time to make the move later and play it safe. It was like his move in Brazil all over again ( which he now admits was a 50/50 incident)

    He seems like a nice guy but he’s not F1 material and that RedBull is truly wasted on him.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      16th July 2020, 8:16

      Albon was cruising though. He was not going to beat Bottas so best he could do was secure P4 and that’s what he did.

      In fact Albon did speed up to 1:07s when attacked by Perez, while Verstappen dropped back from cruising at 1:08s to 1:09s and then got beaten by Bottas. Albon was actually marginally faster than Bottas when both were pushing.

      I get that Albon is slower than Verstappen, but I really do not understand the outrage over it. It’s clearly a managed gap and they finished P3 and P4. Should have been P2 and P4 really, but that’s the best they could do anyway and they got almost that. And that they didn’t get the 100% score possible was not due to Albon.

      1. @f1osaurus how was it in Red Bull’s favour to have Albon lapping at the same pace as the midfield pack, meaning that the gap between Albon and the drivers behind him was small enough at the time of the first pit stops that he could have been undercut by Sainz?

        How is it in Red Bull’s favour to have had one driver who was so far out of sight of the leading trio that he was of no use to them whatsoever in any strategic sense, allowing both Mercedes drivers an easy opportunity to pit and then come back out comfortably ahead of Albon?

    2. @Tom I’ve already pointed this out to a few other people before, but he mightn’t have got a chance anymore had he waited for longer with attempting to pass LH. He was right to try and get past him as quickly as possible to maximize the grip-advantage he enjoyed from both fresher and two-steps softer tyres. Otherwise, he might’ve got stuck behind his dirty air and lost any even remote chance of getting past VB for the race lead. His tyres being two-steps softer than those of the Mercedes-drivers also meant that they were up to temperature quicker, only adding to his tyre-advantage.

      1. @jerejj I understand you’re point and fully agree that he had to get past as quick as possible, but when you’re in a position of getting your first podium at the first race of the season surely you play it a bit safer. Around the outside of Hamilton is a 100/1 move. His tyres were so much fresher and Mercedes were limping so why rush it so much. Another Lap and he would have DRS to make an easy overtake. I think it comes down to knowing when to push and when to take your time. He saw the headlines of his first race win and showed no restraint that’s a rookie move. I could defend him is he was a quick driver but he’s not.

  12. How slow must Giovinazzi’s race pace be if he’s consistently being overtaken by Kimi in the race despite being at least 4 places higher on lap 1? It needs to step up if he’s going to keep his seat

  13. The funny thing is if I made a comment non ‘politics’ I would be censored here. My esteem for Hamilton’s response when COVID broke out and cancelled the Melbourne race has now diminished, considerably. I am even prepared to boycott my ONLY EVER spectator sport forever if they keep this up. Toto says always can do more. I say, for this bankster inspired and funded campaign or glorifying criminals like Ferguson and vilifying the people who invented practically everything you see, you will never be able to do enough. Grovel away and see how that goes for you (and lock away your daughters).

  14. Was RIC really waved through by OCO? If he did it was only after fighting for a few too many laps.

    Apart from that: HAM, PER and NOR good; ALB, STR and SAI bad.

    1. Yeah, I noticed it took a long time for the order to Ocon to come through. I get why, but it likely cost the team 5th place.

  15. Got to say, Albon should be in the strugglers. That was a very poor race. To be that far behind Max is a shocker. Hope he can keep up though

  16. F1oSaurus (@)
    16th July 2020, 8:23

    Don’t understand Sainz as a star. He had a good qualifying and then an utterly lackluster race. It’s “GP star performers” right? Not “Great in Q3, but poor result in GP”?

    For all we know Sainz set up his car for a good Q3 result and therefore was so poor in the race. While Norris went for the best race setup (Like Leclerc claimed he did).

    Either way, Norris most definitely got the most out of the GP between those two. Plus he got the “show boat factor” with overtaking a bunch of cars at the end.

    1. It doesn’t make sense but Sainz is consistently glorified here. He was even put as 3rd driver last year despite struggling with a rookie and others like Leclerc shone big time. I guess Sainz’ bragging really works on some people, as the other big bagger is practically deified.

  17. Leclerc at least was wide enough

    Or in fact too wide, his teammate might contest… (should read “wise enough” I’m guessing)

  18. If you look at his career, lecs races are incident filled from his Karting days. All based on a very aggressive driving style.
    Nothing new there. I guess Ferrari thought his wild years had past… But no.

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